“Bumblefuck” begins the album, and it really shows SOS as a band that meshes together a number of different traditions. For those into the current state of rock music, there seems to be more than a hint of Disturbed-like riffs. Riffs also resemble Metallica and the thrash-rock of old Anthrax, while the tempo is more reminiscent of early punk music. “Star Killers” is more of the same, but what is really compelling on this go around is the vocal harmonies of lead vocalist Adam; what is also surprising about tracks on “A Guide To Better Living” is that the session drummer Travis (who is not named as a member of the band) really fits in flawlessly with the rest of the band.
Each of the tracks has a certain drive to it that does not allow individuals the luxury of getting one’s breath. Even if the vocals are slower (and more grunge-influenced, like during “Everything Must Go”), there is a definite drive to each of the tracks. When the band does slow down their tempo, they create a tension (such as in “Middle Ground”) that is not the typical brooding style of metal, but rather the rich, earthy instrumentation of a band like The Appleseed Cast. The only thing that really seems questionable about “A Guide To Better Living” is the fact that there are so many tracks on the album; with seventeen cuts, there seems to be ample material there to conceivably cut a few of the less-essential tracks (not all the tracks enjoy the high standard created by “Everything Must Go”) and come out of the deal even stronger. The random insertion of stronger tracks among the few stragglers means that a listener will have to go through everything to get to an endearing track like “Dead Before Noon”.
In “Dead Before Noon”, the vocals really achieve an “Rust In Peace”-era Megadeth feel that is only strengthen by a guitar arrangement that elicits comparison to the heaviest-hitters in the genre. The late-eighties/early-nineties feel to the track really fleshes the disc out in another way. The dynamic between the band and Travis really takes another step during the latter’s drumming during the late “Rub & Tug”. This louder, more-brash style is more than enough to keep listeners going at this late part, and when the vocals move into a style reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine, individuals will be captured for the rest of the disc.
Top Tracks: Dead Before Noon, Bumblefuck
SOS – A Guide to Better Living / 2005 3:16 Productions / 17 Tracks / http://www.sosnyc.com / http://www.316productions.com / Reviewed 08 October 2005